It's the last night of 2011, and this has been a year for advice (Dear Sugars, especially), and for finding the voice that sounds inside me, for the letters I have to write to find the truth. This has been a year for the tough love, for the awful obedience, for the beautiful brave things. This has been a year of gut-wrenching yes: and so at the end of it, I want to write the gorgeous, hard truth.
It's New Year's Eve. I'm at home, quiet among my family and the customary clinking of dishes and desserts. I'm sitting here typing out letters to form words to form sentences and all I can think is "What the hell was 2011, anyway?" And can we even know, what years are, and what they mean? And why did I do those obedient things? And why did I have to break my own heart? And why did I keep blogging? And why didn't I apply to grad school? And why did I sit in her car looking at the moon and its watery ocean self and think that I am a writer? And what was the point of it?
Hilary - What was 2011?
I'm sitting at home this New Year's Eve, too. I'm sitting at home typing out letters to form words to form sentences. I'm writing back to you because you ask so many questions and tonight, it's the chance to spit it out straight and shout it loud and whisper it between your words and mine, in that sacred space we share. Your living beating heart to mine.
2011 was the beginning of it all.
Every year is the beginning of it all. It's the beginning. It's a gift, too precious to hold onto tightly. It's too precious even to try and interpret. Can I give you some advice, love? Don't expect to understand everything.
Be hungry for understanding. Let the hunger feed you. But don't think that because you hunger to answer those stupid and beautiful questions about what it all means you will find answers. Don't assume that you can hold the answers, even if they found you. Don't assume that you're meant to know it all, and if you can't tell exactly why it all happened you've failed some kind of self-awareness test you didn't even know we were giving you. There isn't always an answer. There isn't hardly ever the kind of answer you think you want.
Why did you have to do those awful obedient things? Because they were the beginning of obedience. Because they were the beginning of a you who cherishes honesty and trusts that this is worth it.
Why did you have to break your own heart? Because we all do, someday. Because you can't always have what you want and there is breaking and bending whenever we reach the edges.
You kept blogging for the same reason that you didn't apply to grad school for the same reason that you looked at that moon and its watery ocean twin and thought you are a writer. You did it to make the you. You did it to make the life, and, love, most of the time it won't fit in a box or complete a color-by-number or answer the last four boxes of the crossword puzzle. This is you, making the life. Making the you.
Can you see that? That living, beating heart of yours behind these words on New Year's Eve? The gorgeous, hard truths you stepped out into, and brought into your home and your friendships and your words and your life?
The thing you want to know is not what 2011 was. You don't want to know the answer to all those questions of why and who cares and so what and how does it even matter. No, my dear, you want to say YES. You don't want an explanation: you want to begin. You want to build. You want to write and think and heart-break and sing and thesis-defend and not-apply-to-grad-school and blog and love the way towards the truth.
Can I give you a bit of advice? Write. Think. Break, sing, thesis-defend, not-apply-to-grad-school, blog, love your way towards the truth. It's the only way forward you've got. It's all any of us have got. Take it.
2011 was the beginning of it all, love. Now build.